The Baseball Desert

Thursday, December 18, 2003

Dastardley deeds

The numbers being bandied around in the A-Rod / Manny / Nomar deal rumours mean that we sometimes lose sight of the fundamental things like the ethics behind such a deal. Jim Caple has an interesting take on the situation, not only regarding the ramifications for the teams involved, but also what his sees as A-Rod basically trying to steal Nomar's job:

That's what this deal comes down to, one player trying to steal another player's job. Which would be all right, if both played for the same team (this happens all the time -- it's called competition) or if both were unsigned and seeking a job. But this is a case where both players are under contract with different teams and one player is undermining the other's negotiating leverage.

In a sense, I think he has a point, but at the same time, you could also argue that the Red Sox - having seen Nomar apparently turn down their 4-year, $60 million offer in the spring and then Miguel Tejada sign a six-year blockbuster deal with the Orioles - were also maybe planning to shop Nomar around anyway. Who's to say that the rumoured Magglio Ordonez deal wouldn't have been examined at some point? It's a dangerous game that the Red Sox probably couldn't have afforded to play - trading away their star shortstop without any guarantee of being able to replace him - but if it had merely been mentioned a month ago, there wouldn't be a problem with trying to sign A-Rod as Nomar's replacement.

As it turns out, the deal has hit a huge brick wall - in the form of the Players' Association - and may not get done at all. Apparently, the ethics are not a big deal, but God forbid A-Rod should actually want to take less money in order to make the deal work! I understand that this is a matter of principle for the Players' Association, and that thye're opposed to such a move because of the precedent it might set for owners looking to make yet another quick buck by reducing players' salaries, but I do have a hard time getting my head around the idea in this particular case.

There are one or two things that bother me: firstly, A-Rod apparently understands the Association's position, on this deal, but at the same time, he is the one looking to restructure things in order to make the deal work - he seems to be OK with the idea, and, at the end of the day, it's his money...; secondly, this is not a major-league minimum salary we're talking about here (and even if it were, the league minimum is probably ten times what the average American takes home every year) - this is $252 million over ten years. Go on - do what you did when you first read the figure three years ago: repeat it slowly, try to comprehend it and then go get your calculator and figure out that it means A-Rod makes $2876 an hour (even when he's sleeping during the offseason)... It's Monopoly money, it really is. Don't get me wrong, as I've said before, A-Rod would have been a fool not to accept such an offer if it was out there, but he's not going to be lining up at a Salvation Army soup kitchen anytime soon, so if he wants to take less money, let him take less money. What happened to "land of the free"...?